The classic 1960s sitcom Hogan’s Heroes is getting a sequel, courtesy of one of the original’s creators.
Deadline is reporting that Al Ruddy, who created the series with the late Bernard Fein, is currently at work on a new series with Danny McBride and David Gordon Green.
A comedic riff on Bill Wilder’s war drama Stalag 17, Hogan’s Heroes centered on Colonel Robert Hogan, played by the affable Bob Crane, as the leader of a group of Allied espionage agents who worked in secret out of a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp run by the overly officious but generally incompetent Col. Klink. Under the cover of appearing as simple POWs, Hogan and his crew would use a network of secret tunnels to leave the camp in order to carry out covert mission to hinder the German war effort.
According to Deadline –
The reimagined version will be a single-camera action adventure comedy series focusing on the descendants of the original heroes, now scattered around the world, who team up for a global treasure hunt.
So Hogan’s Heroes: The Next Generation?
The original series ran for six seasons on CBS from 1965 to 1971 and earned twelve Emmy nominations. Co-star Werner Klemperer, who played the bumbling Col. Klink, would win two of those nominations for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy in 1968 and 1969.
Hogan’s Heroes has something of a tarnished reputation today due to some people’s miscomprehension that the show was set at a concentration camp rather than a prisoner of war camp. A small distinction, and one that does not necessarily mitigate the fact for some that Nazis are used as a source of humor and that the show minimizes the horror of the Holocaust and Nazi war atrocities. Focusing the show on the original characters’ descendants would certainly go a long way in dispelling those concerns.
But inappropriateness of subject matter wasn’t an issue for the show at the time of its original airing. The four actors who played the major German characters on the show – Klemperer, John Banner (Sargent Schultz), Leon Askin (General Burkhalter), and Howard Caine (Major Hochstetter) – as well as Robert Clary (Corporal LeBeau), were all Jews whose lives and families were all affected by the Nazis. Klemperer, Banner, Askin and Clary had all fled Germany during the war, with Clary, Banner and Askin all losing immediate family members to Hitler’s concentration camps. Klemprer at the time of his hiring was adamant that his character should never gain the upper hand over Hogan and his men. And as Banner stated many times in interviews over the years, “Who can play Nazis better than us Jews?”
In 2012, Fein’s estate and Ruddy sued Mark Cuban, the purchaser of the show’s producer Bing Crisby Productions, to determine who owned the rights for any sequel and separated rights such as feature film rights to the series. A judge ruled in their favor, and Ruddy initially started into development on a feature that would relaunch the franchise on the big screen. That project, however, withered on the vine.